Welcome to the Maintainer Community

Last updated on 2024-03-11 | Edit this page



  • What does it mean to be a Carpentries Maintainer?
  • What is my motivation for becoming a Maintainer?
  • What should I expect from this training?


  • Introduce yourself to your fellow new Maintainers.
  • Describe what will and will not be covered in this training.
  • Articulate The Carpentries’ overall goals for our Maintainer community.

Before The Course Begins

Code of Conduct

To make clear what is expected, everyone participating in The Carpentries activities is required to conform to our Code of Conduct. This Code of Conduct applies to all spaces managed by The Carpentries including, but not limited to workshops, email lists, online forums and on GitHub. Please review the Code of Conduct to familiarise yourself with it.


Hello everyone, and welcome to The Carpentries Maintainer Onboarding. We are very pleased to have you with us.

Previous Experience (5 min)

Please put an “x” next to each item that corresponds to your answer to the question

In what ways have you been involved in The Carpentries community?

  • Contributed to lesson materials
  • Helper
  • Instructor
  • Learner
  • Trainer
  • Executive Council member
  • Committee or Task Force member
  • Workshop organizer or host
  • None of the above

How often do you currently use Git?

  • Never
  • Less than once per year
  • Several times per year
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily

How often do you currently use GitHub?

  • Never
  • Less than once per year
  • Several times per year
  • Monthly
  • Weekly
  • Daily

Which operating system(s) do you commonly use?

  • macOS
  • Linux
  • Windows
  • Not sure

We have a range of folks with different levels of previous experience with The Carpentries and different types of technical background. We are not all experts in Git or any other specific software. That is ok! You will learn some of the specific things you need to interact with The Carpentries lessons on GitHub during this training and get information about how to continue learning and growing in this role.

Maintainer Onboarding Overview

The goal of this training is to provide you with the skills and information you need to become a Carpentries Maintainer. During this training, we will:

  • Orient you to The Carpentries goals and vision for lesson maintenance
  • Help you get connected with other Maintainers and the overall Maintainer community
  • Develop skills for creating a positive environment for all contributors
  • Become familiar with the key components of the lesson template
  • Practice core technical skills for lesson maintenance
  • Learn how and when to elevate issues to your Curriculum Advisory Committee

What This Onboarding Does Not Cover

The Carpentries supports over 40 official lessons across our three Lesson Programs (Data Carpentry, Library Carpentry, and Software Carpentry). At any given time, there are also dozens of community-supported lessons in active development in The Carpentries Incubator. This training is intended for Maintainers of official lessons, and we will not cover how new lessons are developed, vetted, and adopted into The Carpentries core lesson stack. Those interested in curriculum development are encouraged to read The Carpentries Curriculum Development Handbook. We also offer training in collaborative lesson development.

We do not expect you to be an expert in Git or GitHub, or even to have used these tools at all in the past. We will provide you with an introduction to the core skills you need to respond to uncomplicated issues and pull requests, however, there will undoubtedly be more complicated maintenance situations that require Git skills beyond what we will cover in this training. The best way to learn Git is to work with it, and we encourage you to reach out to your co-Maintainers and others in the Maintainer community for support and resources. We have monthly Maintainer meetings where you can bring questions to the group, and also provide each other support in asynchronous communication channels. We’ll introduce those channels later in this onboarding. The Software Carpentry Git Novice lesson and the Library Carpentry Introduction to Git lesson are also great resources for learning and reviewing the core skills you will need to maintain your lesson.

Goals for Lesson Maintenance

The Carpentries teaches 400 - 600 workshops each year, meaning our lesson materials are being used practically every day for synchronous, guided learning. Making sure our lessons keep working without interruptions is therefore our number one goal for maintenance.

A secondary (but still extremely important!) goal is ensuring that the spaces we use for lesson development and maintenance are just as welcoming and inclusive as our workshops.

Ensuring that our lessons are on the cutting-edge of new technology and tooling is not a priority for The Carpentries. Although we do want our materials to stay relevant, and we will talk about how we do that later, it is far more important that our lessons remain pedagogically sound and technically viable, than that they represent the latest and greatest new developments in the field.

With these goals in mind, The Carpentries expectations of Maintainers are that you:

  • Monitor your lesson repository and make sure that pull requests (PRs) and Issues are responded to in a timely manner (even if that response is “sorry, this is out of scope”),
  • Do not introduce new errors into the lesson,
  • Quickly fix anything that is unambiguously an error or that negatively affects workshop learners,
  • Be receptive and welcoming to suggestions for improving the lessons. The lessons aren’t perfect!
  • Evaluate all contributions in view of The Carpentries pedagogical model:
    • Teach what is most relevant and useful for learners.
    • Avoid unnecessary jargon and detailed explanations. Always ask yourself whether it is necessary for the learner.
    • Keep language motivating.
    • Meet learners where they are.
    • Emphasise the importance of continued learning and improvement.

Maintainer Guidelines

You can find more details about Maintainer Guidelines in The Carpentries documentation.

Next, we will explore in more detail who contributes to The Carpentries lessons, what kinds of contributions you can expect to receive, and how to apply The Carpentries Core Values to communicating with contributors.

Key Points

  • The Carpentries is a community of practice. We strive to provide a welcoming environment for all learners and take our Code of Conduct seriously.
  • This training will prepare you to get started in your role as a Maintainer.